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LETTER: Train truth missing in Painful Truth

Rail proponent takes umbrage with Claxton’s assessment of Interurban future

Dear Editor,

I understand lack of transportation is a popular topic these days but I was absolutely dismayed at Mathew Claxton’s Painful Truth column published in your paper on June 7 [Interurban won’t run again, Langley Advance Times]. It was incorrect on virtually all of his statements.

He said he “[doesn’t] believe the old Interurban Line through the Fraser valley will ever run again.”

The old Interurban won’t, but a new state-of-the-art hydrogen passenger rail service between the Pattullo Bridge and Chilliwack will run again.

The Interurban was exactly that, it connected growing urban communities throughout the valley, which are separated by ALR land that cannot be developed.

Historically, it was the rapid transit of the day, with about 60 stops between the Pattullo Bridge and Chilliwack for moving people. Check out the cars that they used: it was not built for milk pick-up and delivery, although it was also used to bring produce into the Framers Market in New Westminster.

In a Press Release dated July 27, 1988, the provincial government announced the sale of the B.C. Hydro Freight Division and freight rights for the full Interurban corridor by B.C. Hydro to Itel of Chicago (forerunner to Southern Rail), and freight rights of the joint section between 232nd Street and Cloverdale to CP Rail.

The CP agreement is governed by a Master Agreement (an 88-page agreement) dated August 29, 1988 – a 21-year agreement renewable at either party’s option. It was renewed in June of 2009.

Key to the agreement:

• Passenger rights are preserved at no cost;

• Passenger and freight traffic must be shared equally; and

• Should the volume of traffic require double tracking, it shall be done at CP’s expense, including installation of new track and disposal of all debris.

Added to the above is the recent development of hydrogen passenger rail (Hydrail) that is in successful operation in Germany (Canadian manufactured technology).

In short, unless you believe that CP/CN/or Southern Rail is not required to live up to the terms of the sale agreement and contractual law in this country, senior levels of government are obligated to take advantage of a passenger rail service that is available for pennies on the dollar.

The corridor was not sold; it is owned and protected for the citizens of British Columbia.

There is obviously much more to the proposal. Go to www.southfrasercommunityrail.ca for full and complete detail on what is up for discussion.

Rick Green, South Fraser Community Rail Group

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